The Freakonomics blog interviewed Sabermetrics founder Bill James, in Bill James Answers All Your Baseball Questions. Bill James has been educating and entertaining us with his statistics-based observations about baseball for three decades. Baseball has always been surrounded by statistical analysis, but Mr James has been driven by a need to understand the game and to describe the relative contributions of different players, and to this end has developed unique quantities to rate a player’s pitching, batting, and fielding performance.
Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt, the authors of the book Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything and the blog Freakonomics, take a unique view of many things:
Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common? Why do drug dealers still live with their moms? How much do parents really matter? How did the legalization of abortion affect the rate of violent crime? (from the Freakonomics book web site).
Naturally then they have reason to interview an innovative numbers guy like Bill James. As a baseball fan and a numbers guy myself, I’m interested in what Mr James has to say. Especially as a fan of the Boston Red Sox, the team that hired Mr James as a consultant in 2003, and subsequently won the World Series in 2004 and 2007. The 2004 Championship came after a long drought; depending on whom you ask, it lasted 86 years (according to anyone in New England, aka Red Sox Nation) or 87 years (according to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney).
My favorite part of the interview was this question and answer:
Q: What statistical software do you use?
A: Just Excel.